The Monmouth University baseball team lost their final pre-conference weekend series to Fordham University, dropping two games on the road before returning to West Long Branch for their home opener on Sunday.
On Friday in the Bronx, an offensive battle saw the Hawks to a 9-8 lead in the bottom of the ninth. After an opposite field solo home run from Junior infielder James Harmstead in the top half of the inning, the Hawks were unable to maintain the lead, losing on a walk-off two RBI single to right field.
Junior pitcher Trey Dombroski started on the mound for Monmouth, allowing three earned runs on seven hits, through seven innings. Dombroski posted a season high 12 strikeouts on the afternoon.
“Our inability to play defense today really hurt us,” said Head Coach Dean Ehehalt. “We gave away too many outs throughout the game.” Although their defense was shaky, the Hawks offense was hot, sparked by a two homer game from Harmstead, as well as a three hit game from Sophomore infielder Dixon Black. With clutch RBI singles from Senior Nick Campana and Sophomore infielder Casey Caufield coming late in the game, the Hawks had all the run support they could ask for but found themselves unable to finish in the final frame.
On Saturday, with a chance to retake control of the series, Monmouth fell short, 8-5. The Hawks showed life early, as junior infielder Joey Ventresca delivered his second home run of the season over the right field wall to tie the game in the top of the second.
Fordham’s offense showed up however, scoring a run in the bottom of the second, and two more in the third. After a Fordham two run homer in the sixth, the Hawks found themselves behind 7-1.
Monmouth was able to battle back with some timely hitting from senior outfielder Colin McCreary, who roped a two RBI single back up the middle in the seventh, reducing the damage to 7-3. A double from Caufield scored McCreary, as the Hawks entered the backend of the game trailing 7-4.
Fordham scratched across one more run in the bottom of the seventh. Senior Alex Barker was quick to combat, delivering a spectacle of a home run in the top of the eighth, making it 8-5. Monmouth was held off for the remainder of the game, dropping the game and the series to Fordham.
“We battled and fell a little short,” said Ehehalt, “looking forward to playing at home tomorrow; it has been a long road trip.”
On Sunday, for their home opener back in West Long Branch, senior left hander Rob Hensey led Monmouth to a 3-2 victory. Hensey struck out 11, recording no walks through eight scoreless innings.
On the offensive, the Hawks were sparked by an opposite field sacrifice fly from junior catcher Brady Mutz, which scored Harmstead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Barker came through in the following inning to pad the Hawks lead with his second homerun of the series. Moving into the ninth Monmouth led 3-0.
In the ninth, Fordham showed life, loading the bases with nobody out. Mason Miller came out of the pen to record a strikeout in a lefty-lefty matchup. Another pitching change saw junior pitcher Ryan Bearse close it out. Bearse struck out the first batter he saw before a walk and a wild pitch which brought home two for Fordham. With the bases still loaded for Fordham, Monmouth leading 3-2, Bearse came through with a big strikeout out of Fordham’s junior infielder, Will Findlay.
With the win on Sunday the Hawks record improves to 9-12, a positive increase from last week’s 8-10. The team intends on improving that record when they compete in their next matchup.
On Tuesday, Monmouth travels to South Orange for a non-conference matchup at Seton Hall University. To stay up to date with the team, follow @MUHawksBaseball on Twitter.